Secrets from All-Star Chefs
Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis is known for her light and streamlined versions of classic Italian dishes, and summer is when her simple, delicious recipes shine. The granddaughter of legendary movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, Giada's culinary influences come from both sides of the Atlantic. She was born in Rome in 1970 but raised in Los Angeles. De Laurentiis, 37, got her introduction to fine food at home, then honed her skills by training at Le Cordon Bleu, the famed Parisian cooking school, and working in top Los Angeles restaurants. Clearly, cooking for -- and with -- family remains one of the most important facets of her life.
Ladies' Home Journal: Is food central to your family?
Giada De Laurentiis: Anything that's really important to us happens in the kitchen or over a meal. I fell in love with cooking because it's such a big part of our life. There's a lot of laughter, storytelling, and sharing of creative ideas for dishes. And believe me, when we're together, it can get pretty loud!
LHJ: Who cooks when you all assemble for a meal?
GD: Me, my Aunt Raffy, and my grandfather. My grandfather gave me a passion for food, and my aunt taught me to be creative. They -- and my mother, who put healthy, delicious meals on the table for four children -- made me the person I am today.
LHJ: Tradition is certainly the basis of your cooking. But what about innovation? Has anyone ever said, "You can't do that with food"?
GD: What gets my grandfather more than anything is using ingredients -- like tomatoes -- from a jar or can. He thinks everything should be made from scratch using fresh ingredients. He's 88 and the product of a very different world, one in which his mom did cook that way. I tell him no one's going to make Italian food at home if I don't occasionally give them the option to use canned tomatoes.
LHJ: Is this a good time of year to think about eating healthy food?
GD: The warm weather and beautiful ingredients naturally inspire people. Everything tastes so much better, and you want to experience that, rather than smother fruits and vegetables with sauces. As a result, you can put together a fantastic meal in no time. Grilling -- which is quick and easy -- is also a big part of that.
LHJ: Your food is so pretty and bright -- it seems to go with summer.
GD: You eat with your eyes first. If a dish is colorful, you want to dig in. I'm aware of this when cooking on television, because viewers can't smell, taste, or touch anything.